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Review – 2012 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Centennial Edition [w/video]


Chevrolet has been churning out vehicles for over 100 years now. The automaker was founded in November of 1911 by a man named Louis Chevrolet, which is pretty convenient in hindsight. Mr. Chevrolet was a Swiss-born Frenchman with a penchant for racing. He came to the States and began piloting quick cars for for Fiat. Soon after he was tasked by General Motors to run race cars for the Buick brand. During his time with Buick, Lou Chevy began to understand just what it takes to design and build cars. Chevrolet automobiles sprouted up, and the Bow Tie-brand continues to pump out cars and trucks to this day.

As a tip o’ the cap to Louis, Chevy has put out a special edition Corvette that serves as a proper homage to the man that founded the company. Racing was in his blood, and these Centennial Edition Vettes are set to boil off your own precious red fluid. I was lucky enough to spend a week with the 2012 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Centennial Edition… and I think Louis would be happy with the modern sports car that his namesake is churning out.

Keep reading to learn more, and watch a video where I spend my time from dusk to dawn getting my hoon on.

The C6 generation of the Corvette still appeals to me. I was never a ‘Vette fan growing up, and I still loathe the C3-C5 cars, yet the C6 looks both sleek and muscular at the same time. The Centennial Edition version ups the Creatine dosage by a few Jersey Shore-grade scoops, but the looks work. In fact, they work damn well, and most of my time driving this Z06 was spent responding to waves, thumbs pointed up, and man nods.

Chevy has splashed the exterior in a dark scheme called Carbon Flash Metallic, which is accented wonderfully with a pair of matte stripes running down the center of the car. An aggressive front splitter, subtle rear spoiler, and deep side sills all work together nicely, but they aren’t the main focal touch that bring the entire look together. It’s the wheels. While I don’t love the red bit running ’round the circumference of the blacked-out rollers, I do love the darkness. Chevrolet has taken a nod from Vlad the Impaler on this car, and the overall effect is excellent. 

It’s not just the wheels, however, that set out to serve notice of the sinister intentions hiding under the sinewy bodywork of the Centennial Edition Z06. Those wheels certainly help start the conversation though. Up front, the Z06 uses 19-inch wheels while 20-inch units sit out back. Said wheels are wrapped in ultra-sticky Michelin PS Cup rubber, which is almost on the wrong side of street legal. There’s less tread on these tires than you might find on your average amateur drag strip racers machine.

The result? Grip. Grip. Grip.

Grip for days, as long as the roads are dry and the tires are warm. Otherwise, shift early and shift often to keep the Z06 from becoming a dreidel. The tires aren’t the only thing keeping me moving in the right direction though, because the Louis Chevy tribute car is equipped with the Z06 Performance Package. That means this two-door also wears carbon ceramic brakes, which might think about fading once the sun blows up and swallows our solar system. Add in the magnet suspension system, and you’re left with a car that wants to devour other vehicles off the line, and then continue to chew on their bones in any corner.

The 2012 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Centennial Edition is a muscle car that happens to enjoy destroying the curviest of curves.

Of course, I couldn’t attack anything if I didn’t have the proper powerplant mounted under the hood. Thankfully, this isn’t a base Corvette. I’m playing jovial host to the LS7-equipped Z06. That means I have 7.0-liter 505-horsepower V8 at the ready, and with my twitchy right foot I’m all too happy to turn expensive gasoline into physical discomfort and explosions of blissful mental fireworks.

My god, that noise. That glorious noise.

Chevrolet decided that the Z06 should be fitted with a dual mode exhaust system.  The LS7 creates a lot of noise, but sometimes a Z06 driver (read: not me) might want a bit less of the V8 dancing in his or her ear canals. Under 3,500 rpm, a vacuum-operated solenoid closes a flap on the two central exhaust outlets, while the two outer outlets remain open. Push the needle past 3,500 rpm, and the central units open up. 


Thankfully, however, Chevy engineers decided to stick a fuse in the passenger-side footwell. This little 10-amp unit controls the solenoids, and nothing else. Pull that, and glorious noise is the immediate result at all points in the rev range. I kept the fuse in the cup holder for the entire week I spent with the car.

If I want to enjoy all that the Z06 has to offer, I can’t spend that time outside. That means I have to venture into the interior space, which is not exactly up to par with some other offerings in this price range. The base price of a Z06 is in the mid to low $70,000 range, but our Centennial Edition car is a tick over $101,000. Some of the buttons appear dated, and the nav looks like it was crafted by PlaySkool. Still, the Corvette takes some knocks that aren’t exactly justified.

This Z06 boasts suede in the center portion of the seats, around the rim of the steering wheel, and all over the shift-knob. The seats are quite comfortable, and the bolstering can be turned up or down depending on the type of driving planned. I could see remaining just as cozy over a 1,000-mile jaunt as I would over the course of 10 miles. Throw in the solid sound system and the heads-up display, and I’m left with an interior that’s more than useful in a vehicle as capable as this Z06.

While it’s quite capable, it also enters into the equally capable air that plays home to cars like the Porsche 911, Jaguar XK-R, Nissan GT-R, Aston Martin V8 Vantage, and a few others. The 2012 Centennial Z06 might not match the luxury afforded by the Jag or Aston, the record-breaking figures offered up by the GT-R, or the general sense of Germany provided by the Porsche.

That’s all fine though, because I got to spend a week with a car that may have well been called the Chevrolet F14 Tomcat, and been painted in Stars and Stripes. Plus, when wearing the ridiculously sticky Michelin PS Cup rubber, it’s capable of showing the competition what quad round taillights look like as they disappear into the distance. 

I teamed up with Will Novy (lensman behind our past video efforts) to document a mostly visual look at a full-day spent with the car. Take a look for yourself:

[Disclosure: Chevrolet gave me the keys to the car shown above, as well as a tank of gas. That tank of gas lasted longer than I thought it would because I was hitting as high as 27 miles per gallon on the highway. Still, I left the highways for curvier pastures… and wound up needing about three more tanks of gas.]

  • Louis Chevrolet's personal story is interesting, a bit tragic and would be worthy of the 'verse.

    • A quick search through the ironically named online book store shows no readily available biography… Makes it even more interesting!

  • 11mpg

    You still have to be a complete a**hole to own a late-model Vette. Don't blame me – it's just the way of the world.

    • Devin

      Do you? I don't think the ass quotient is all that different from anything else in the premium segment.

    • That's like saying you have to be a complete a**hole to drive a vehicle that gets 11mpg. It ain't necessarily true, but it's easier than thinking.

    • It seems your peers have voted with their thumbs.

      There's a better way to address the "are Corvette owners assholes?" question than what you offered up. You're bringing us 9th grade when what we need is grad school.

    • Around here, you're a complete a##hole to come up with a statement like that, without writing at least a paragraph to support your position. Don't throw crap like this out into the breeze and expect not to be shut down hard by those of us who have made this an intelligent and funny place to hang out. We get along well here, with each other, and expect the same behavior from everybody else.

  • It is amazing to me that a Z06 can ring up above 100k. That is a lot of AmeroFunBucks from a base Z06.

    Still, I am quite jealous. Good job, Jeff, and rad photos, Mr. Novy.

    • hey now, I took the photos too… Will did the video work.


      • Well, good job to you, Jeff. You must have picked up quite a bit from Drew Phillips.

        • Drew is the king.. it was a real pleasure to watch him work, and he certainly helped me become a better photographer.

          • pj134

            My offer to send you a level still stands.


  • pj134

    Carbon Flash Metallic eh? If it's anything like it was from 2007-2009 on Saturns, the paint will get spider webbed from a few heavy breaths. Pretty much the same with any bright red or navy blue from GM, so I guess it's par for the course.

  • FЯeeMan

    The Corvette takes a lot of beating for its plasticy, PlaSkool, parts-bin interior, but it just hit me: that's not really the point of a car like this. You shouldn't be looking at the inside or futzing with any of the controls other than the wheel, the shifter and the flash-to-pass. The rest is really just fluff.

    Of course, the vast majority of these cars (in this class) are never driven anywhere near 5/10ths, so all those interior bits really do matter in day-to-day life.

    • njhoon

      Agreed. And I'll add to that, no flappy paddles thank god.

  • FЯeeMan

    Say, Jeff, just how many burn-outs did you have to do to end up with the wheel cap logo precisely right-side up so you could take a nice picture?


  • 2012 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Centennial Edition with Performance Package = $101,000
    2012 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 = $111,600

    That's getting awfully close with competing against big brother. And FWIW I love the redline wheels.

    • The ZR1 can be had with the Centennial edition treatment as well. I think you have to view the car as an investment to justify the price.

      • So it will be another fantastic car snatched up by collectors to reside in a plastic bubble, only to be sold off in 10 yrs at Barrett Jackson for some absurd amount of money.

        Hopefully somebody buys one to drive one.

        • BlackIce_GTS

          While it would be nice to so-much-as see one on the street, I don't mind how 'still in original box' people keep them, as long as they buy enough for GM to justify doing more stuff.
          And why wouldn't they vacuum pack them? Does the Centennial Edition merit it's price in drivingness benefits over a normal Z06 or is it only added collectablity?

  • Van_Sarockin

    With this generation, the Corvette can finally justify calling itself America's Sports Car. Took a long time, but Corvettes are now great performers, handlers, tourers, and can even be gas misers. I wish they did something a little more tasteful and classy than a sticker to mark Chevy's 100th. That's like adamantium birthday or something.

  • i have a Big Cock

    i dont care what ppl have to say i like the car look good and saving to buy one